‘Inmates to Entrepreneurs’ Program Lets Durham Man Get His Life, Business On Track

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham man struggled to find work even after attempted murder charges were dropped as part of a plea deal in 2015.

Chuck Manning decided to enroll in the eight-week “Inmates to Entrepreneurs” program. He graduated from that on Tuesday night.

The father of four sat in the Durham County jail for 14 months. He said he took a plea in 2015 to dismiss the attempted murder charge, but it stayed on his record.

Manning applied for jobs, but no one would hire him.

“There was like a roller coaster of emotions,” he said. “First, I’m happy and I’m grateful that I’m out and I’m free and I see my kids. But, at the same time, when I’m going to apply for these jobs so I can support my kids, it was hurt.”

So, Manning took matters into his own hands. He accepted the chance his uncle gave him to cook at an event for more than 700 people. He later used the money to start his own cooking business.

“That one chance can make or break someone,” Manning said.

But, Manning needed more skills like budgeting and networking, so he enrolled in “Inmates to Entrepreneurs.”

“It’s just great that they are taking part in this sort of story,” said Brian Hamilton, founder of “Inmates to Entrepreneurs.” “Going from being judicially involved to getting on your feet and starting a business and being a part of this big dream — that we like to share.”

CBS 17 has learned the program started in 1992 and expanded to Raleigh and Durham last year. So far, 85 people have graduated in the Triangle.

Hamilton noticed the need to help people like Manning.

“What are we going to do,” Hamilton recalled on the decision to act. “Are we going to give people a second chance or not? So, we’re all about the second chance.”

“I see guys who really need that one chance to change their life,” Manning said.

It’s a second chance Manning is thankful for. Now, he’s doing the hiring.

“I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was but the[n] when Mr. Hamilton came to West Wilkes Middle School it changed my perspective on business careers.”

Caleb Huffman Student West Wilkes Middle School

Being a mentor… allows me to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with the business tools that they need to be successful in our society.

Monica Russell Mentor Inmates to Entrepreneurs

We believe that entrepreneurship unlocks the door to economic opportunity in the United States.

Margaret Froneberger Chief Executive Officer Brian Hamilton Foundation

Having your own company is for everyone, not just those born into privilege.

Brian Hamilton Founder Brian Hamilton Foundation